Monday, April 22, 2013

"Hope Comes from God's Grace" International/Uniform Sunday School Lesson for April 28, 2013

              "Hope Comes from God's Grace"
International/Uniform Sunday School Lesson for April 28, 2013

Scripture Text: 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3, 9-17

Purpose: To help us to stand fast no matter how uncertain or evil the times may be

2nd Thessalonians 2: 1-3, 9-17 (CEB)
1 Brothers and sisters, we have a request for you concerning our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming and when we are gathered together to be with him. 2 We don’t want you to be easily confused in your mind or upset if you hear that the day of the Lord is already here, whether you hear it through some spirit, a message, or a letter supposedly from us. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. That day won’t come unless the rebellion comes first and the person who is lawless is revealed, who is headed for destruction. …..
9When the person who is lawless comes, it will happen through Satan’s effort, with all kinds of fake power, signs, and wonders. 10It will happen with every sort of wicked deception of those who are heading toward destruction because they have refused to love the truth that would allow them to be saved. 11This is why God will send them an influence that will mislead them so that they will believe the lie.12The result will be that everyone will be judged who is not convinced by the truth but is happy with injustice.
13But we always must thank God for you, brothers and sisters who are loved by God. This is because he chose you from the beginning to be the first crop of the harvest. This brought salvation, through your dedication to God by the Spirit and through your belief in the truth. 14God called all of you through our good news so you could possess the honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold on to the traditions we taught you, whether we taught you in person or through our letter. 16Our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and a good hope. 17May he encourage your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do or say.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Do you have questions about the “end-times?” Do you wonder how this world will end? Do you become discouraged when your life seems to be going nowhere? All of these questions are similar to what that small congregation in Thessalonica was inquiring of the Apostle Paul.

Paul had taught and visited in person, but now he was some distance away, probably in Corinth, and when Timothy returned from visiting the Thessalonian church he brought back some questions from them and they were looking for answers from Paul.

Paul's answer refers back to his original visit, but we are not privy to what Paul had said at that original meeting. So, as we read Paul's response it is easy to get confused about his reply. The 2nd verse sort of implies that there may have been a bogus letter, causing some of the confusion.

Paul's reply is such that in his attempt to answer the questions of the Thessalonian's he may have confused us. He implies by verse 3 that the return of Jesus will not occur until after a rebellion, conducted by either Satan, or the anti-Christ has been revealed.

In our lesson text, starting with verse 9, Paul describes how Satan will work through this deceiver, that has been given the fake power to preform acts that will lead unbelievers away from their faith and trust in God. Paul describes how those that follow this anti-Christ will end up in destruction.

It is important for us to understand that these followers and not punished by God, but their lack of belief and faith condemns them. God wants everyone to be saved from this destruction, but He does not force us to believe in Him. However, he allows us to choose whom we believe and what we believe, the condemnation comes from our choice to believe a lie. With all of the signs and wonders that we are witness too, and with the work of the Holy Spirit that has been given to us, and the grace that God has given to us even before we have any knowledge of God, it hard to fathom that unbelief is so easy.

Paul did not know when the “day of the Lord” would come. His answer was to remain faithful to what you had been taught. To consider all other teachings and letters based on Paul's original message to them.

Our eternal hope is a gift of God's grace to all of us, regardless of time and circumstance. It was true in Paul's day and it is just as true today. As Paul instructed those in Thessalonica, continue doing good and continue to witness to others, trusting in God always to deliver us, and comfort us, as we go through the trials and labors of living in an unfinished world.

We always have choices to make, will your choice be to do good, and share the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, or will you choose an easier way that does not require any commitment or discipline on your part, just going along with the crowd, looking for self gratification and an easy way out. If you choose the latter, don't blame God for your destruction that will come. One choice offers hope and eternal life, the other offers eternal destruction.

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